Exploring California - Journey of a Noob

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by KennyBooBear, Jan 4, 2020.

  1. dano619

    dano619 Long timer Supporter

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    Glad all went well for you.....its always a little sketch when you get into a jam solo, but when your back on the blacktop......ya kinda smile and say.....yup got thru that one!! Nicely done!! Keep em comin!!
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  2. eaglescan

    eaglescan Borrego rocks Supporter

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    Looks like you were headed for Heart attack hill, what are you using for a map? cheers
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  3. KennyBooBear

    KennyBooBear Been here awhile

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    You're spot on about that!

    I was indeed and that was part of what I was aware of. I had studied the route quite a bit but somehow in all my research missed the Squeeze as it's apparently known. I've never actually been to it, but from what I've seen, I can somewhat confidently say I feel as though I've been down worse on the Himalayan. I notice a trend in the videos of folks going down it - one where they seem to be clutch in and creeping down using the brakes to full stop, then creep forward a bit more - stop. Rinse and repeat until they get to the bottom.

    The problem I see with that approach is while it's slow and has low risk for injury, it also constantly has the suspension all over the place and the bikes weight transitioning back and forth from back to front. What I've found works for me down things that were seemingly way to steep to ride down is to first gear, clutch out and simply drag the front brake and control speed with the rear brake enough to prevent myself from over-speeding, but otherwise just let the bike find it's way down.

    I realize easier said than done comes to mind and obviously I'd need to actually ride Heart Attack Hill/see it in person to back up the aforementioned (I definitely realize camera footage has a way of watering down an obstacle) but after riding down some of the ridiculous diggings mounds in the Yuba Gold Fields, I'm not sure a hill could be much steeper/more fear inducing than some of the ones I went down. If I had done that stop/go method I see bikes doing going down the diggings hills, I'd have eaten it immediately and rolled down the hill to the bottom with my bike sliding all the way down on it's side.

    We'll have to see how I feel about it when I get back out there. Ironically I was talking to Jesse about it today - and he suggested we wait for a thunderstorm to pass through, hardening up the sand in Fish Creek a bit - and then us tag teaming it on Himalayans. When that happens I'll be sure to make a detailed report.

    Cheers gents.
  4. Zubb

    Zubb he went that-a-way... Supporter

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    I would enjoy that report. I like your style of documenting with pics and 'inner thoughts'.

    I always like to be rolling on steep/tougher terrain. Speed is your friend (until it isn't). But when things get really tough . . .

    there's this - - - - -


    Dead clutching and feathering the front is a rock solid method for getting down through those bad decisions we make at the trailhead.

    Probably the best advice I ever got for big bikes on sketchy terrain was from a 2018 GS Trophy winner.
    1) always be scanning ahead and planning for traction. Roll through the loose stuff and gas it when you have a patch of traction.
    2) balance. practice practice practice balancing at 0 - 2 mph.

    Cheers. I look forward to another jaunt with you and the monkeys in August or so.
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  5. Zubb

    Zubb he went that-a-way... Supporter

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    oh. . . and 3) if you need 10 horse power to get through something, give it 12. Not 50.
    This one definitely rains on my parade. :lol3
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  6. eaglescan

    eaglescan Borrego rocks Supporter

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    The Squeeze is not hard on a bike, it's called that because it is narrow, jeeps might scape a mirror , small drop off.
    The real drop off is steep, slippery and long, good to go with someone on that. Also going back up it is probably a 10 .
  7. KennyBooBear

    KennyBooBear Been here awhile

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    haha, fantastic advice. Yea, I've used the creep method a few times but it's usually out of fear of an obstacle. It just feels like I'm trying to prevent the bike from finding the path of least resistance down - and everything I've learned riding tells me that letting the bike find it's way is the road to success. Once I finally work the courage up to just ride it, I'm always surprised by the result of my simply riding down using the skills I've learned with no drama.

    Yea, I'm quite sure it's more harrowing than video would lead me to assume so I'll reserve my opinions of it until I'm sitting up top looking down. I'll be with at least one other person when I get there though, so that'll give me a bit more confidence as well.

    :beer
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  8. KennyBooBear

    KennyBooBear Been here awhile

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    Mini-Motocamping Trip to Big Bear: great success!

    On Friday I reached out to a couple of friends who had expressed interest in going MotoCamping. I've been wanting to pack the Tusk Pilot bags heavy and see how well they and the bike do on trails when fully loaded but I've also really been wanting to get into the forest at altitude and wake up at the crack of dawn to smell the sweet, pine sap laden air around me. One friend also on a Himalayan couldn't make it, but Jay - my photographer friend on the Ducati Desert Sled - quickly committed as he too wanted to test out his setup.

    I had two ideas floating around - one would have us ride 243 through Idyllwild down into Banning and then up to Big Bear through Yucaipa and via. Clark's Grade Road. The other option was to head further East into Joshua Tree. Due to the uncertainty of COVID camping in the NPS, we decided to go to Big Bear as the National Forest is open and if nothing else we could dispersed camp which is something we're unable to do in the National Park. I spent Friday evening loading the bike up and lubing the chain before getting a good night's rest.

    Jay arrived at my home by 9:00 and we hit the road at about 9:30am Saturday morning. I had most of the route memorized so we pounded pavement non-stop until we reached Hemet Lake. We pulled off on the shoulder as the view of the nearby 7-11,000ft peaks is simply too stunning to resist taking a moment to gaze. Jay brought his Leica along this trip and shot some beautiful Velvia. Each of his shots will have a link to his instagram page.

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    Photo Courtesy of @jayreilly.photo

    We got back on the road and carved into Idyllwild. I had a Milky Way in the tailbag and knowing it would soon be mush due to the searing sun above, I chose to make a pitstop at a convenient store to stock up on water and down the chocolatey goodness. We continued on drama free until my ignition woes once again started up. Fed up, I quickly pulled off - pulled the ignition switch and hotwired the bike.... again. By this time I was soaking in sweat so when we got back on the bikes I was thoroughly relieved. The route I planned had us ride through Banning and into Timoteo Canyon for a scenic stretch of 2 lane highway. Shortly thereafter we were in Yucaipa where we stopped at Big 5 for a few extra provisions (I needed a spare white gas canister for my JetBoil and some sunscreen, and Jay needed a sleeping pad and pillow.) We continued on to our lunch stop at the always classy Wienerschnitzel.

    We spent about 30 minutes there before heading back to the bikes for our final ascent - but not without some added drama. Upon reaching the Himalayan, I twisted the wires back together to find that the bike failed to respond. I proceeded to untwist, and retwist them together to no avail. With my heart slowly sinking I said something along the lines of "Well shit.... this sucks." Without shade and in weather close enough to 100 degrees, I dug in. After messing with the wires, trying and failing to jump the bike off of the Ducati and checking fuses - I concluded the battery had shit the proverbial bed. A quick search on my phone and a call later determined that a suitable battery was waiting for me about 1/4 mile up the road. We discussed the option of my taking the Ducati but Jay's generosity aside, that was a responsibility I didn't want.

    Let me tell you, walking a half mile total in 100 degree weather wearing heavy ADV pants is not my idea of a good time, especially when you reach the auto parts store and have them test your battery for shits and gigs - only to find that the battery is perfectly fine. Defeated, I walked back to the bikes and went back to troubleshooting. I crudely reconnected the battery without shoehorning it back in and went back to the hotwire job. My last ditch effort was to cut deeper into the ignition wires figuring maybe the copper I was dealing with was just too degraded.

    Sure enough, after splicing in deeper and getting to some beautiful unmolested copper, the damn thing lit up like a Christmas Tree. We had killed 2 1/2 hours due to shitty copper. Needless to say, I was at this point pretty damn annoyed with the shoddy/shitty ignition switch on the Himalayan as it's caused me nothing but issues - especially over the last 2000 miles.

    We packed up and promptly headed for the mountains, knowing our original opportunity to stop and take our time along the way for photos and sightseeing was now shot. Still, Highway 38 absolutely made up for it.

    In no time at all, my mood was improved exponentially as 38 is just a stunning stretch of tarmac. 20 or so miles later and we turned off toward Seven Oaks. To my surprise, the road was paved all the way through. As we rode the bikes deeper into the forest, we crossed the resort which was ironically crowded in people trying to get away from the madness of the city. Our sights were set deeper into the forest where we would hopefully find seclusion, and find it we did. A few short miles later and we split off onto Clark's Grade.

    All I can really say about Clark's Grade is that I wish it were closer. The first couple miles start out sandy, and lightly rutted but fairly smooth apart from a few off camber spots - and then you rise above the Oaks and into the pines where it all changes. Suddenly we found ourselves hitting an almost continuous stretch of rock gardens, ledges and babyheads. Hell yeah, my kind of road!

    We reached a large stretch of Land Rovers slowly making/spotting their way up - though I opted to slip through and head. I'm massively and truly impressed with how capable the Himalayan really is. As my skills have improved, I found myself laughing and shouting my way up the mountain asking for more and more. Ledge after ledge and rock after rock, I was picking bad lines on purpose to see what she and I could do. Without question, this was the most fun I think I've ever had on a stretch of road. Poor Jay on the other hand - not as much. As he has a good bit less experience than me in the dirt, he didn't quite have enough confidence to split through the group of Rovers and ended up dumping his bike a time or two. I ensured I waited and assisted at times, and insisted we could stop for breaks if needed. Jay however is a trooper and kept on punching away. Toward the top he again lost it in a big mound of sand where I turned back to assist in him righting his 440lb dry machine. By the time we reached the top, he was spent - and though I wanted another 7-10 miles of it - I'm glad it was over for his sake.

    I wish I had stopped and taken photos for this stretch but with the group of 4 wheelers, the waning day and Jay's fatigue, we simply chose to charge up non-stop so as to setup camp and head into town for dinner. At the top of the trail we were shocked to find a couple of gentlemen manning Easy Up tents who seemed shocked we came up the trail on the bikes we were on. "Holy shit! You guys are bad asses to bring those bikes up that trail!" I recall the one saying. They were manning Checkpoint 4 of the BBTR2020 ride (didn't know this was a thing until then) and kindly offered us cold water. We sat around and shot the breeze for a bit as riders came through to head further up the mountain and I made it a point to tell Jay how awesome it was to watch his progression, and impressed I was with how far he's come to make it up relatively unscathed. In the process, I managed to fire off some shots of the riders coming through and one in particular I'm quite keen on.

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    We continued on a bit further to 2N10 and found a suitable spot to camp for the night.

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    Photo Courtesy of @jayreilly.photo

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    I'd like to first say that the Tusk Pilot soft luggage is some bad ass kit. They held up perfectly to the abuse of repeated vaults/hard hits/bash plate smashing riding up the mountain (of course I never laid the bike down on them, but I'm quite sure they would hold up to it) and quickly unpacked to get camp setup.

    Just as we got camp all buttoned up and were ready to head into Big Bear Village, a ranger from the Bluff Lake Reserve passed by and informed up that we would have to pack up camp and move. She was tasked with closing the gate and couldn't do so if we were on this side of it. The spot we were in was technically National Forest and not a part of the Ecological Reserve she agreed, but due to the gate being closed it would create a liability issue if we needed to quickly depart in the event of an emergency. Initially frustrated by this due to being wrought with famine, I had resolved myself that today was just going to be filled with mini shit shows. I then tried to work my verbal magic on her, which delightfully worked. I had expressed my hunger and light-headedness to her and briefed her on the day's events - asking if we could simply walk our tents up and over the nearby hill, allowing us to park our bikes on the other side of the gate. She agreed as this ensured we were outside of the reserve and though technically still too close, it removed the liability. We spoke briefly after and after relocating the tents, headed into Big Bear for dinner.

    By this time, my arms were glowing red having been burned to a crisp by the sun in spite of my sunscreen efforts. The sweat must've worn it away. I picked up a bottle of Aloe/Vitamin E lotion and applied it liberally before we split a Pizza. We grabbed a few beers and snacks and then rode back to camp just as the remaining daylight faded. Jay and I spent another 30-45 minutes chatting, drinking a couple of Stellas, and watching overhead satellites pass before turning in for the night.

    The next day I was up at 5:10am just as the first bit of sunlight began to illuminate the sky. I setup the tripod and fired off a few early AM photos before enjoying the tranquility of being the only conscious soul in the area.

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    By the time Jay had awoken at 5:45 or so, I had already started prepping to pack up and fired up the JetBoil (actually a knock-off but works just as well) for morning coffee and oatmeal.

    Stay tuned for Part 2
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  9. KennyBooBear

    KennyBooBear Been here awhile

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    We made good time packing up and by 7:10AM we were ready to get back on the bikes. Jay and I first spent a bit of time taking advantage of the incredble early morning sunlight and both fired off a myriad of photos to capture the moment.

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    Photo Courtesy of @jayreilly.photo

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    Photo Courtesy of @jayreilly.photo

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    Photo Courtesy of @jayreilly.photo

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    Photo Courtesy of @jayreilly.photo

    Around 7:30 we saddled up and began riding into the Village. We arrived with time to kill before the restaurant of choice opened up. If I'm allowed to say, when in Big Bear in the early morning hours - do yourself a favor and stop at Amangela's for a breakfast bagel. Damn that made for a good way to start the day!

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    We took our time but finally hit the road at about 9:15 stopping only once for fuel. I was home by Noon having completed a blast of a mini adventure on the Himalayan. Now, if only that new ignition switch assembly can arrive a bit sooner I'll be even more content.

    There's no place like home....

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    Oh, and along the way I finally crested 9000 miles indicated, despite actually having around 9300 on the bike!

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    Ride safe ladies and gents. 'til next time.